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Places of Worship

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The Context

On this page we are considering primarily PA systems in regular use in a particular worship venue, rather than temporary systems set up for specific events or by visiting bands. By "places of worship" here we primarily mean meeting places for Christian gatherings (of any denomination) − though some of the information given may equally be applicable to gatherings of other faiths.

The technical principles and many of the operational aspects of PA systems are similar no matter what the context of use. So please don't look only at this page − all the other pages of this site are equally relevant to PA in places of worship, and may be of some assistance to you.

If you are a technical operator who is fairly new to the subject then a useful introduction is provided by the 'Getting Started' pages for mixing engineers and system assemblers. Worship band members getting used to using a PA may find the performers' page useful. If however you have a specific PA-related problem or query, it is probably best to first check the FAQ page.

This page is written primarily to provide guidance to small finance-limited churches whose systems are inadequate for their present needs, or are suspected of being inadequate. If your system is a large or fairly-modern one that is being effectively utilised and is meeting your main requirements, then most of this page is unlikely to be of much interest to you.

From a PA perspective, we need to remember that the circumstances of different congregations vary widely, so there is no possibility of a "one solution fits all" approach. For example, we could contrast the case of elderly congregations meeting in traditional church buildings (a gradually declining scenario in the UK and Europe) with the case of younger and mixed-age gatherings using alternative accommodation such as schools or other rented halls or rooms (which is on the increase).

Congregations vary greatly in their average size:

in the type and size of their accommodation: in their mix of ages: and in their musical worship styles: These factors, all of which are relevant to PA requirements and design, may combine in a multitude of ways. However, the following scenarios are the most common:

There are a number of likely PA arrangements, which may or may not be appropriately tailored to the actual requirements of the particular worship scenario:

Common Difficulties

The provision and operation of PA systems for such gatherings poses some particular challenges. Why should these be any different to other contexts of PA use? Mostly because the context is not a professional one − nor even a semi-professional one − in the sense that a church is a non-profit-making organisation. When not well-endowed financially (as is sadly often the case), the provision of adequate PA equipment and competent operators frequently falls low in the list of priorities for expenditure and action.

A persistent shortage of funds available for use in this area is likely to mean:


These lists demonstrate just some of the very difficult challenges often faced by the sound engineer in places of worship. Thankfully, not all of the above will apply to every worship situation, but if none of the factors listed applies to yours then you are very blessed indeed − Praise the Lord! Frequently, when funds are simply not available to address even the most pressing of the above issues, the engineer has to operate in the knowledge that the achievable results fall far short of his or her ideal.

Looking Forwards

In some cases the only solution for improvement may involve significant expenditure − on equipment, training, and/or controlling the room acoustics. However, in addition to the basic advice on mixing given on the Mixing Engineers page, here are some specific tips that may be of assistance:

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he* who did nothing because he could only do a little." − Edmund Burke. [* or she − Editor]

Other Audio Equipment

This section includes lists of some manufacturers of other audio equipment that you may need in a worship context. (For general PA equipment suppliers see the Suppliers page and for manufacturers see the Manufacturers page.) These lists are not exhaustive, and no recommendation is implied. For further information on the equipment from these manufacturers follow the links, which take you to their websites. These links open in a new window of your browser. Please contact me if any of the links don't work, or if you would like to suggest other manufacturers to be added. Thank you.

Induction Loop Amplifiers / Drivers

(For information on what this is about, see Induction loop.)

Audio Recording Equipment

There are a number of possible approaches to producing audio recordings of services, each of which have their own merits and possible problems. Some common methods are listed below − the first two being the methods most often employed.

Video Projection for Song Words etc.

Some churches, especially those that prefer a more traditional or personal worship style, are content with using hymn books or other song books for their congregations. However, video projection of song words from a computer can offer substantial benefits. For example:

Some cautions:

There are many available sources of song words projection software. Here are some suggestions:

Some tips on creating PowerPoint™ presentations:

Some video / multimedia projector manufacturers:

Safety Considerations

All the usual PA-related safety considerations apply in places of worship − see the Safety page.

Special attention must be given to situations of increased risk, such as the greatly increased risk of electric shock in the presence of water. This applies not only to outdoor events, but also in other situations involving water, such as baptism services. Even the presence of damp surfaces can increase the shock risk, but risks are greatest when significant amounts of water are present − particularly when persons are substantially immersed or drenched, or when pools or baths are used into which equipment might fall. Fatalities have occurred in these and other similar circumstances.

As the layout and circumstances vary from location to location, it isn't possible for this website to give categoric or specific safety advice. You must ensure that you have safety measures and procedures in place that are appropriate for your specific circumstances. If in any doubt, seek suitable professional advice. However, the following brief guidelines may give a useful starting point:

If you would like to reproduce any of the information from this website for use by your church, please refer to Reproduction of Information from PAforMusic on the home page.

There is considerable scope for expanding this section of the PAforMusic website. If you have particular questions, comments or suggestions relating to the use of PA systems in worship contexts, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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This page last updated 19-Jun-2018.